Last Saturday marked the seventh anniversary of the Iraq War. In 2003, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld boldly predicted that the war would last, “Six days or six weeks, but certainly no more than six months.” Rumsfeld sounds like “Carnac the Magnificent.”
The seventh anniversary and the sixes in Rummy’s prognostication reminded me of the expression “at sixes and sevens.” Among various definitions it means, “confused state created by surrounding madness.” In 1375, Chaucer referred to a dicing game where trying to throw a six and seven was considered exceedingly reckless. By that standard, the Bush administration was “at sixes and sevens” but the madness wasn’t surrounding them — it was them.
Many historians consider Iraq to be our worst foreign policy blunder, ever. (Cheney would say, “So?”) I had hoped this infamous anniversary would be marked by nationwide demonstrations. Instead, people were consumed with Jesse James’ cheating on Sandra Bullock or Tiger Woods’ latest “sext (sexy text message).”
Apparently Tiger’s missive to his mistress was so lurid that Elin moved out of the house, again. Elin must have a Bekins truck on retainer. It’s a shame they don’t live closer or she could have lent it to Sandra Bullock.
The Iraq war is the second longest conflict in American history and counting, but not many are outraged. Maybe Jack Nicholson was right in “A Few Good Men.” We can’t handle the truth.
The truth in this case is that Bush and Cheney longed to invade Iraq years before the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. PNAC, Project for the New American Century (a name that drips with arrogance) acknowledged that to achieve their goals politically we “needed another Pearl Harbor.” (Voila, 9/11.) Except that the Japanese did bomb Pearl Habor whereas Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11. But Bush and Cheney never let facts get in their way.
Hours after 9/11, George Bush confronted terrorism czar Richard Clarke, demanding to know Iraq’s involvement. When Clarke informed him that there was none, Bush jammed his finger into Clarke’s chest, “Look again.” The results were Clarke had a sore chest but Iraq had zero culpability. The neo-cons moved to Plan B.
Fear mongering is the one thing Bush and his sycophants did well. Via Fox News, they talked non-stop about WMD’s, Niger uranium, and nuclear mushroom clouds. To sway votes in Congress they cooked pertinent information and whited-out whole passages. They testified that the war would cost $50 billion when it’s likely to cost $5 trillion (factoring the lifelong care we rightfully owe many injured vets). The Bush estimate was off a mere $4.950 billion, which would shame even Carnac.
And when honorable people spoke the truth they were punished. General Sincheki requested 400,000 troops in Iraq and he was forced to retire. Ambassador Joe Wilson debunked the Niger uranium claims and the administration leaked that his wife, Valerie Plame, was a CIA agent. Even the Mafia leaves wives alone but not Scooter Libby. (What 60-year-old man still calls himself “Scooter?”)
If it’s true that those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it, we’re in deep doo-doo. We didn’t learn from Vietnam or there never would have been an Iraq war. In Vietnam, we had the Gulf of Tonken, which escalated the war (except it never happened). In Iraq, it was WMD’s.
Bush and Cheney were so desperate to find a connection between Saddam and 9/11 they authorized “enhanced interrogation.” (How’s that for a disturbing euphemism?) Among other slight problems was that the vast majority of suspected terrorists weren’t terrorists. Cheney encouraged waterboarding (still brags about it) even though it’s illegal in American and international law. Plus, after WW II, we prosecuted the Japanese for war crimes for waterboarding! Hypocrisy, anyone?
Colin Powell used information gained from waterboarding in his infamous speech to the U.N. Powell rues the day he gave that dreadful speech, but it’s too late for conscience now. Please rent the Oscar-winning documentary “Taxi to the Dark Side” to see what horrors were inflicted in your name (not a popcorn movie). To those justifying our inhumane tactics by citing those of our enemy, I note that we didn’t beat the Nazis by becoming Nazis.
Here’s the seven-year Iraq War tally: 4,385 GIs dead (as of March 18). Wounded: 32,242 with 320,000 vets suffering from brain injuries. Suicides: 18 per day. (And yet, reflecting on his presidency, Bush said, “Laura and I had the time of our lives.”) Cost: $1 trillion and $280,000,000 daily. Civilian Iraqi deaths: Conservatively, 100,000 and millions displaced. Overall result: We’re far less safe. By removing Saddam, we empowered “axis of evil” Iran and created generations of new terrorists. (But it was great for Halliburton, British Petroleum and Exxon.)
That’s my rant until the next anniversary. But I worry that, until those responsible for the Iraq War are held accountable, we’ll forever be at sixes and sevens.
Please go to YouTube and type “Cheney 1994.” In the meantime, Jack can be reached at Jackneworth@yahoo.com.